Letting God’s Word Speak

Certainly there are appropriate ways to say things, but ultimately, what Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty did was quote the Bible, specifically 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Jesus didn’t die to make what used to be sin, somehow, no longer sin. He took our sin upon Him to cleanse us from it and conform our wills to His. There is such a divide among people on the issue of homosexuality and same sex marriage. It makes many of our politicians cower in the corner, afraid to take a stance. It seems more and more our media and culture would like to make it seem that choosing to believe God’s Word over man’s opinion is somehow anti-gay and hateful. It’s not; to be pro-God is not anti-gay. As I listen to the firestorm created because of Phil Robertson’s comments, I’m reminded that it is really not our opinion that matters. It is about what God’s Word says. We can certainly choose not to believe it, but that doesn’t change its truth. God has spoken. The question is, are we open to hearing from Him?   

            From the beginning of the human race, God created marriage as a union between one man and one woman with Adam and Eve as our pattern to follow (Genesis 1-2). This is clear when Scripture is studied. Jesus recognized this fact in answering a question concerning divorce in Matthew 19:3-6. If God has made His moral standards regarding marriage plain, as He has, other types of relationships, such as homosexual relationships cannot be accepted as valid. Unfortunately, in our pride, we have attempted to elevate our thinking above God’s in order to change the things He has said so our sin can be seemingly more tolerable and therefore more compassionate. That’s what our postmodern world does; it denies God’s absolute truth in the name of tolerance on the false grounds of compassion. Our problem is really due to the lack of our acknowledging the Divine authority of Scripture. The unbiblical view of the marriage union is but one example of this. But God has spoken clearly on this issue and the most important words to hear are His:   

–          “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

–          “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)

These moral standards are not changed in the New Testament: 

–          “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged natural    relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)

–          “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

–          “Understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and their mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” (1 Timothy 1:9-10)    

            Whether you or I disagree with any of these passages above has no impact on its truth. We cannot continue to presume upon God’s grace and expect His blessings. What did Paul say, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2) Some of those that Paul encountered believed that the gospel of grace gave them a license to sin. Some believe that today, but it is not true. There is a difference in knowing we are sinners who sin, and having a willful desire to live in it. Grace truly received creates a heart that aims to please God. As a country, we bow our heads and pray for God’s blessing, our national leaders end their speeches with “God bless America” and all the while, we disregard His will concerning, not just the issue of marriage, but many issues in which He has spoken. Worst of all, we do it willfully. This is sin and willful sin impacts our relationship with God and our seeking Him through prayer. Consider the following verses:   

–          “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)

–          “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18)

–          “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)

–          “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer.  But the face of the               Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)

            We don’t have to be perfect for God to answer prayer. If we did, He wouldn’t answer anyone’s. But we must realize that God searches and knows the motive of our hearts and He is not indifferent to our sin. No amount of disagreement with His Word on this issue makes it untrue. He has spoken. That leaves us with a choice, either we agree with those words or we deny them. Sharing God’s truth is never unloving. In fact, I would contend that sharing His truth in a loving way is the most loving thing we can do. The greatest expression of love, however, came at the cross, and it came because of Christ. In spite of our sin, God provided a means for our forgiveness, Jesus. Forgiveness comes only through Him. God’s power is greater than our sin and out of His love; He gave us His Son who lived a perfect life, died in our place and rose again. The power that brought Jesus from the grave is the same power that can save and keep you. And if His power can do that, it can certainly conform your thinking to what He says regarding this or any other issue. Now that’s good news.

Being the Gospel on Display

This morning I went to see my dentist for my six month checkup and cleaning. Fortunately, I won’t have to go back for another six months. Every time I go to Dr. Paul Barganier’s office, I am reminded of a particular visit about nine years ago. As I sat in his office waiting to go back, I picked up and read that day’s devotion from Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest. I still remember that devotions specific relevance in my life at the time and though I certainly didn’t realize it then, I now also recognize what else God began in my life. It wasn’t long after my appointment that day that I purchased my own copy of Chamber’s devotional and began making it part of my daily reading. Up until then, my daily time with the Lord was very inconsistent. Many of Oswald Chamber’s devotions have been extremely relevant at particular moments in my life. God has used his writings to minister to me. I count his writings as a tremendous source of blessing. I made it a habit to not only to read the devotion, but also the chapter of the Bible for that particular day’s key passage.  

            This year, the theme at our church has been The Gospel on Display, about how we as Christians are to live out the effects the gospel has had on our lives. Dr. Barganier attends a different church, yet has nonetheless faithfully fulfilled the same Christian mandate, to live out the effects of the gospel, to be, the gospel on display. I have personally witnessed this on several occasions.

            God never does anything by accident. As Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest sat there on the table along with the other books and magazines, I know God drew me to that devotional on that day. I also know that this devotional has helped to further, not only my love for God, but also my love for writing devotions. I’ve thanked Dr. Barganier on several occasions for making it available in his office.  This morning, some nine years after I first read one of the devotions from it, I thanked him again and gave him a copy of my own devotional, Unveiled.

            We live in a society and culture that tells us that our faith should be private, that it’s okay to believe what you want; just keep it to yourself. That’s not true! As Christians, we are live out and share the things we profess to believe. Faith in God is not meant to be hidden away, but displayed for others to see. We never know the situations the Holy Spirit will use to further our walk with Christ or who He may use in the process. He has used many people in mine, some who may not even know it, and some who I may not have even realized He was using at the time. One of those people is my dentist, Dr. Paul Barganier, who by making this and other devotional’s available in his waiting room, not only was, but is being the gospel on display.